A chartered physiotherapist is using the musical rhythms of the 1950s and 1960s to help stroke patients regain movement and fitness.
aren Roberts is using Zoom to conduct online exercise classes and has discovered the musical hits from that period have “the perfect beat and tempo” to get the best results.
Initially she was providing free socially distanced dance exercise classes on the public green at Maunsells Park in Galway to help elderly cocooners maintain muscle strength during the pandemic.
Ms Roberts then began providing free online classes for people whose movement was impaired as a result of a stroke. They were sitting in chairs in their own homes during the classes.
She found that using the music of the 1950s and 1960s was particularly effective in spurring movement among her clients in the 30-minute sessions.
She said she is a neuro-physiotherapist as well as being an orthopaedic physiotherapist.
“In the beginning I told them to follow me at their own pace and they were all out of synch with me and each other. But within six weeks they were all perfectly in synch,” said Ms Roberts (60).
She has now decided to offer her free Zoom classes to stroke patients around Ireland who may be interested in joining. She plans to resume the classes next week as part of her effort to support the community during the pandemic.
The general format of the classes is to start slow with a warm-up, then speed up gradually until the patients are challenged for at least one or two minutes.
The tempo of the songs is gradually reduced until the last tune, which is suitable for doing a much-needed stretch to finish.
Her warm-up includes songs from artists like Patsy Cline (Walking After Midnight), The Turtles (Happy Together) and The Everly Brothers (Bye Bye Love).
To pick up the pace, there is Roy Orbison (Oh, Pretty Woman), Bobby Darin (Dream Lover) and Herman’s Hermits (I’m Into Something Good).
The fast songs could include The Monkees (I’m a Believer), Elvis Presley (Jailhouse Rock) and Chubby Checker (The Twist).
The stretches at the end are to slow tunes like The Mamas and the Papas with Dream a Little Dream of Me and Nat King Cole’s Stardust.
Ms Roberts said people can email her for an invitation to her free Zoom classes on firstname.lastname@example.org.
She intends to launch a blog on a new website in the near future which will ask people “to stop buying into the idea that you will break down as you age – it’s not entirely true”.
“You will if you do nothing at all to help your body stay functionally ‘fit’ as you age,” she explained.
“We lose physical function or functional fitness because we don’t control our movements properly, not because we age, or don’t exercise.
“When movements and postures become difficult as we age – mostly because we don’t take regular care of the body as we should – we start to avoid these movements and postures, making our functional world smaller and smaller.
“We can’t stop the aging process, but we can do simple things to slow down the ‘effects’ of aging,” Ms Roberts added.